Whilst bumbling through Birmingham City Centre at the start of December, ostensibly “Christmas Shopping” – in reality, annoying the hell out of the GG (“Are you finished yet?”, “I’m hungry”, “I need the toilet” – were all phrases I repeated over and over again…) and taking frequent breaks to the beer and snack tents at the excellent German market situated in Birmingham City Centre – I did what all bored geeks do (right?) and I searched for interesting Wireless signals on my Windows Mobile device.
As well as the usual overpriced public hotspots (grrr) I got my first look at Birmingham City Council’s free new hotspot service – Birmingham Fiz.
Now before you get too excited, Birmingham Fiz isn’t a free wireless portal to the Internet. You can’t go browsing Google, Yahoo and eBay with it.
What you can do though, is freely access information on a number of public services such as:-
- Listings for local cinemas, theatres, music venues and sports events;
- Ideas of where to eat and drink;
- Train, metro and bus timetables;
- Where to park and where to find a taxi;
- Places to stay;
- Where to shop;
- Toilets and baby-changing facilities;
- News and sport;
- Local weather forecasts;
- Emergency services;
- Schools, colleges, term dates and holiday clubs;
- Conference facilities and business support services.
In use, Birmingham Fiz is definitely a work-in-progress, but the initiative is to be applauded. Imagine wandering into any major UK City Centre and firing up your Wireless device to get free information about your surroundings.
Or in my case, giving you an excuse to sit down, eat another German Sausage-based snack, swig some more excellent German Beer, and tell your other half you are “working”.